In recent years, I have been inspired by the idea of one’s ability to create their own reality in which we can influence our perceptions and interactions with our environment and therefore, our experience in it.
As intriguing as this is, what application does it have to teaching Pilates?
Well, as Pilates teachers we facilitate and guide a movement experience for our students, but anyone who has lead a good deal of sessions can verify that there is much more than just biomechanics that is relevant to the value of a session. When a student is under pressure from their boss, stressed from their children, or going through a divorce, all of their emotions enter the studio with them whether if we like it or not. Although we are not mental health professionals we are better equipped to facilitate a movement experience if we can create a safe place for the student to simply be as they are. After all, we are seeking the complete coordination of the spirit, mind, and body through the work of Pilates.
When creating a safe space for our students it is essential that we are at peace with ourselves. Early in my teaching career my value as a Pilates teacher was intertwined with the performance of my students. If Jackie did a perfect teaser I was a great teacher, but if she didn’t then I was an imposter posing as a Pilates teacher. Not only was this an exhausting and unhealthy perspective, but it was an ineffective way to enhance the student’s movement experience. Rather, it can be fruitful for teachers to detached their personal or professional identities from the session, and simply allow it to be. Through this surrender the student is given permission to move, make mistakes, and critically think – bringing rise to a learning experience.
It is within the mistakes and the reorganization of the body that the learning occurs. For the student to have that opportunity we have to let go of the fallacy of perfectionism and the addiction of control, even when teaching Contrology. What if we choose to see our students as our teachers – teaching us how to be teachers? It’s our choice on how we perceived this work, and it directly impacts our student’s experience. We have the opportunity to perceive our student’s mistake as either heart-wrenching or an opportunity to have a discussion – allowing a motor learning process to thrive. Without the mistakes the student wouldn’t learn how to communicate to and reorganize their body, and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to guide them through it.
Here’s an exercises to help to create peace and inner space.
- I am’s
- Write down the word “I am” followed by a quality or a feeling you identify with (i.e. I am peaceful, I am worthy).
- Do this as many times as you like.
- Read them out loud in a safe space.
- Make sure to feel the essence of the words.